An article by Lorna Timbah | 21 January 2007 | https://webgrrrl.net | Republishing of this article on other web site is permitted, as long as this reference to this web site remains intact.
In this digital age, our business relies so much on computers and technology to make our jobs faster and easier. Still, as much as we need technology, we have to admit that a substantial amount of our expenses goes into these technology investments, particularly on computer software, when in reality we would have wanted to spend in more profit-generating activities.
Therefore, why not get these software for free instead? You can start with getting free desktop applications. Computers are virtually useless without office suite applications. An office suite is a package containing more than one common, ready-to-use desktop applications such as a word processor, a spreadsheet program, a presentation manager, and others that assist you with your work at the office or at home. Here are just a few of the office suites you can get without having to spend a single cent:
1) StarOffice (http://www.sun.com/staroffice/)
Developed by Microsoft’s adversary, Sun Microsystems, StarOffice created much excitement during its release as the first ever office suite available for free, and can even run on all three major operating systems (Windows, Linux and UNIX). As the suite evolves and improves, many users find it very powerful and easy to use compared to Microsoft Office. Whatever Microsoft Office does, StarOffice can do better. Unfortunately, since more than five years ago, Sun Microsystems has discontinued providing this suite for free, although the older StarOffice version 5.2 is still available for free download outside of Sun Microsystems’s web site. Good news for users comes in the form of another free suite that is…
2) OpenOffice.org (http://www.openoffice.org/)
OpenOffice, an open-source initiative started by a group of people in Germany, caught the attention, and later the financial support, of Sun Microsystems. Slightly buggy than the stable and powerful StarOffice, this suite nonetheless is as competitive as StarOffice and Microsoft Office. OpenOffice developments provide benchmarks and basis for later versions of StarOffice as both suites are continuously improved. Important capabilities such as PDF file conversions and file type compatibilities are conveniently built into OpenOffice without the extra cost involved, compared to what you have to spend when using Microsoft Office. Runs on most major operating platforms just like StarOffice, OpenOffice is well-suited for virtually everyone who needs quality desktop applications for the price of zero.
3) KOffice (http://www.koffice.org/)
KOffice is developed for use on KDE (K Desktop Environment), a Linux-based operating system, although this office suite can run on any other Linux distributions. Therefore, Linux users can count themselves lucky, since KOffice has the most extensive set of tools around (11 applications) compared to any free or paid office suites. Every component of the KOffice application works seamlessly with one another, by allowing any KOffice document to be embedded with other KOffice files. In order to open other document types, such as Word, PDF and WordPerfect documents, KOffice provides file filters to convert to and from different files. Obviously, Linux users will find this suite most suited to them, if their Linux distributions do not come with one already.
4) NeoOffice (http://www.neooffice.org/)
NeoOffice is a version of OpenOffice.org specially modified to run under Apple’s Mac OS X computers. You can expect basically the same functionalities and a little bit more compared to OpenOffice, and with the FOC (free of charge) tag, of course. Although OpenOffice itself does have a Mac OS release, NeoOffice provides more specialized Mac OS functions such as fonts supports, better PDF generation, accessibility options such as voice recognition, and spotlight document indexing. NeoOffice is suited for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) using mainly Mac OS as their operating system, whereas larger organizations are better off using OpenOffice’s Mac OS version, which can handle millions of processes meant for a larger number of users.
5) Online office suites
The most exciting advancement in office suite development has got to be the emergence of Web-based office applications that can emulate exactly what its client-side counterparts could, thanks to the existence of AJAX, the most talked about programming language around. Two of the most popular online suites include Google Docs & Spreadsheets (http://docs.google.com/) and Zoho (http://www.zoho.com/), both of which are 100% free and ready for use. There are only two requirements for using these suites, that you must have an Internet connection and that you have a web browser. The best function of an online office suite is its ability to share your documents to anyone in the Internet for collaborative use. Also, imagine not having to worry about:
– whether the office suite is compatible with your Windows, Linux or Mac operating systems — web applications are cross-platform compatible;
– whether or not you have the latest patches or security updates for your office applications; and
– whether or not you have the latest version of your software.
In future developments, you will also have the option to install it in your company’s intranet servers, should you need to deploy it without the need for 24-hour Internet access. Online office suites are very suited to the “road warriors,” that is, IT-savvy users who constantly travel and who require online access anywhere they are.
Now that you know your option, why not start using one right away? No more burdens about spending on those expensive extra software licenses. Start experiencing the savings you can get by using these free and wonderful office suites, and soon you might even start asking, “Microsoft Office? What’s that?”
Lorna, a business graduate from the University of Alabama, is highly passionate in IT and the Internet, and her passion was what helped her land her first job as a Webmaster (and later as a Web Unit Manager), with the role to manage websites for a state-wide network known as Sabah.Net. She now blogs and makes money online. Lorna is also a part-time tutor with Open University Malaysia, teaching IT and e-commerce subjects to diploma- and degree-level students.